Malaysia, Indonesia to fight EU?

Officers from Indonesia are already in town to discuss measures over EU’s palm oil ban


The world’s two largest palm oil producers — Malaysia and Indonesia — are working on a collective response to retaliate against the European Union’s (EU) plan to ban the use of palm oil.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok (picture), who will be leading a mission to Brussels in May, yesterday said representatives from Indonesia are in town to discuss measures to curb the EU’s latest push to phase out palm oil in biofuels.

“Senior officers from Indonesia are already in Malaysia to meet my officers. Both countries will meet today (March 25) to discuss the next course of action,” Kok told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

Both countries have already threatened to restrict the import of EU goods, with European-made jets identified as the prime target of a boycott on the 28-member bloc.

The proposed boycott on EU products puts Malaysia and the EU’s billions of trades in jeopardy as the latter is among Kuala Lumpur’s largest key trading partners, with exports and imports totalling RM183.37 billion last year.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had recently suggested that the country will purchase new fighter jets from China instead of European arms companies.

Malaysia and Indonesia are the world’s top producers of palm oil, accounting for about 85% of global output, while EU countries are the second-largest buyers from both countries after India.

Apart from retaliating against the EU, Kok said Malaysia is also exploring new markets to sell the commodity.

She said her deputy, Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, had visited Pakistan and Ethiopia for this purpose.

Kok is also expected to visit several other North African countries, as well as attend a trade seminar in Saudi Arabia soon.

“These are all new markets, but there are competitors to palm oil who are already in such markets. We will lose out if we don’t go to such places to promote our palm oil,” she said.

Additionally, the minister said Malaysia will compel industry players to replant one million trees over the next decade to address deforestation charges.

“I have read that our Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail met French MPs who are not aware that Malaysia has more than 50% forest cover. What does this tell you?

“Many are ignorant about Malaysia and the good stories going on here. So, when we work on wildlife conservation and restoration of the forest, we are going to publicise our work,” she said.

Kok said the tree planting campaign will begin this weekend in Sabah.